I had the opportunity to review this set for Brick Architect website. I've focused on the question around whether this set is a good stepping stone for builders wanting to try the Creator Expert Modular Building Series—This is an excerpt of a longer review.
At first glance, this set’s high level of architectural detailing looks like it belongs in the Modular Buildings series. At 99.99$ for 1004 pieces, it is a good deal smaller and less expensive than the modular buildings.
Building the model
The construction process uses 8 numbered bags, so you will only have a few parts on the table at any given time. This felt like too many bags given the modest size of the model, but I suspect this was intentional to keep each bag to around 20 minutes of construction time, and to reduce frustration searching for the part you need. For younger builders, it might make sense to only assemble one bag each day.
Of the two buildings, the Sanctum side of the model is the strongest by far. The three stories reflect three different styles of architectural detailing. The bottom floor has a rusticated stone façade and sloping concrete base suggesting a strong foundation. The second story has a nice contrast between the stone columns and orange stucco. the top floor has a Second Empire style roof, with rectangular windows on either side of an oversized oculus-style window.
While the large round window is creative license on behalf of Marvel, the use of three distinct styles representing the bottom floor, middle floors, and very top floor is quite common in urban residential architecture in Europe and North America. Highly decorated urban residences drew inspiration from rural palaces, at the same period in history when affluent people chose to move to the cities.
Modular Building Lite?
If you review the current selection of LEGO sets, there is a huge gap between the relatively simple buildings featured in the “Creator” series (typically around 30$, aimed at ages 8-12), and the massive sets in the “Creator Expert” series (well over 100$ and targeting ages 16+). The basic “Creator” sets feature relatively little architectural detailing, whereas the Creator Expert sets are extremely intricately detailed. There aren’t a lot of sets in the middle, introducing more advanced building techniques at a reasonable price point, until this set.
To be fair, there are a lot of awesome sets aimed at this transitional skill level and age group within the Star Wars and Super Heroes series, but they are usually ships or large playsets instead of buildings. For this reason, I think it is fair to consider this set unique in offering an architecturally focused minifigure scale model which sits somewhere between the simplicity of the “creator” series and the complexity of the “creator expert” products.
To set realistic expectations, this model has a more compressed scale than those in the Modular Building series: with a base of just 16×16 studs and very small rooms and short ceilings on each floor. That said, there are numerous examples online where people have modified the official set to fit in their Modular city — it doesn’t look like major changes are required to make it look good.
While it doesn’t quite meet the level of architectural detailing found in the Creator Expert modular building series, #76108 Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown is a fantastic introduction to the style. It comes Highly Recommended due to thoughtful architectural detailing, great minifigs, and a fair price.
For the full-length review and lots of photos, visit: http://brickarchitect.com/2018/review-76108-sanctum-sanctorum-showdown/
What do you think?
I'd love to hear what sets you recommend to new AFOLS or younger builders who want to work up to the Creator expert Modular Building series?
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